GARY T. KUBOTA / GKUBOTA@STARBULLETIN.COM
Ocean recreational groups wants the state to take responsibility once more for an easement and resume maintenance at the Maliko boat ramp. The ramp walkway has been damaged by recent storms.
‘Jaws’ access ramp at risk
State is asked to maintain Maui boat ramp
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Maui's world-famous "Jaws" surf break could lose its shoreside gateway, a prospect that has alarmed ocean enthusiasts.
Rodney Kilborn, founder of the Tow-In World Cup at Jaws, said the Maliko boat ramp is critical not only for the tow-in surfers, but also in the event of an emergency.
Not only was the ramp's walkway damaged during recent storms, but the state failed to renew the easement for the ramp with A&B Properties.
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MALIKO, Maui » Several ocean recreation groups want the state to resume maintenance of a boat ramp on Maui's North Shore used by tow-in surfers at the world-renowned Jaws.
The walkway at the Maliko boat ramp, also used by canoe paddlers, divers and fishers, was damaged during storms in the past few months.
Supporters said they also fear the state's failure to renew the easement for the ramp with A&B Properties could lead to private sale of the land. The easement expired in 1997.
The Maui Trailer Boat Club has scheduled a meeting with the state at 6 p.m. tomorrow at Lihikai School.
Club commodore Dave Barker said state officials initially were not interested in renewing the easement and the liability that comes with it, because they felt nobody used the ramp.
Barker said the meeting is being called to show there are many people who use it.
Rodney Kilborn, founder of the Tow-In World Cup at Jaws, said the Maliko ramp was critical not only for the 50 to 60 tow-in surfers, but also in the event of an ocean emergency.
Kilborn, a retired state firefighter, said the next nearest point to launch a rescue vessel is nine miles away at Kahului Harbor.
"You're taking 40 to 50 minutes to get there," he said. "That's not cool. That's really not cool."
Kilborn said taking away the Maliko ramp would place more pressure on recreational use of Kahului Harbor.
David Ward, president of the Hawaiian Canoe Club, said there have been about 20 canoes that launch from Maliko during races throughout the year and that the ramp is used regularly by canoe paddlers for training.
Ward, whose club has 300 members, said the area has also been used by Hawaiians to exercise their cultural practices.
"It's a really important piece for Maui," Ward said.
Brian Yoshikawa, a diver, said about 30 to 50 boats with local divers launch from Maliko because of fuel savings and its proximity to dive areas.
He said local divers do not have the large vessels that can easily make a crossing out of the ramp at Kahului Harbor.
Yoshikawa said the North Shore waters are rough, but lots of residents use the ramp.
"It's pretty important. ... It's not like it's a tourist spot," Yoshikawa said.
Jason Koga, land and environment manager for A&B Properties on Maui, said the firm wants the county to assume the easement of the ramp and also a previous easement to the county for the road leading to the ramp.
Koga said the firm has not made any plans if the state rejects taking over the easements.
He said A&B Properties does not plan to charge anything for the easements.
Deborah Ward, spokeswoman for the state Department of Land and Natural Resources, said her department is considering all options.
"We're asking people to come with solutions so we can have a productive meeting," she said.